Housing Ownership, Price, and Occupancy

To aid residents, organizations, and others in steering development in an equitable direction, this page explores the dynamics of the housing and property stock of Greater Hazelwood. With residents, investors, and developers each seeking their respective–and sometimes divergent–interests in Greater Hazelwood, research conducted by SUDS is summarized below. Data for the analysis is sourced from the Western PA Regional Data Center (WPRDC), Bureau of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections (PLI) Violations Database, and the Greater Hazelwood Community Census.

Investor ownership patterns

  • Investor activity in Greater Hazelwood is concentrated around areas of recent activity (Uber test track, Gladstone Middle School, Propel Elementary School).
  • Most large investors in Greater Hazelwood have increased their purchasing of parcels within the last two years.

Property price and volume changes through time

  • Property sales volume has been increasing year-over-year in Greater Hazelwood since 2012.
  • While rental prices and home sale prices have remained stagnant across the neighborhood as a whole (according to Zillow) in the past few years, the increase in the sales volume and the Almono site’s development, combined with the fact that 72% of all properties sold in the first quarter of 2016 were purchased by investors, suggest that investors may play a larger role in Greater Hazelwood going forward.

Trends in property rental and ownership

  • A higher proportion of renters live in Glen Hazel and “below the tracks”; whereas owners live near the Propel School.
  • Corporation-owned housing was rated as lower quality than individual-owned housing in Greater Hazelwood.
  • Renters are more likely to live in Row Interior style houses and owners are more likely to live in bi-level, colonial, or ranch-style houses.
  • Renters live in houses that are, on average, 16% less expensive than owner-occupied ones.

Background on Housing Data

Greater Hazelwood is located along the Monongahela River in an area that was home to the Hazelwood Coke Works, the last operating steel mill in the City of Pittsburgh. Since its closing in 1998, the neighborhood experienced an outflow of business activity and a resulting challenge associated with vacant buildings and crime associated with unused spaces. The closing and demolition of the Coke Works left a 178-acre vacant site stretching alongside the east bank of the Monongahela River and is, in fact, the last “large” vacant parcel of land in the city of Pittsburgh. Dubbed the ALMONO Site (named from the three rivers that converge in Pittsburgh) has attracted interest and has development plans for roughly 2 million square feet of office space and 1,300 housing units. In February 2016, Uber Technologies announced it will be building an autonomous vehicle test track on the southern end of the ALMONO site.

The almost $1 billion in planned investment at the ALMONO Site has spurred much interest in property use and value not only on the site itself, but in in the entire neighborhood of Hazelwood. From a land use and value perspective, Greater Hazelwood is indeed at an important crossroads. Residents and those concerned with equitable growth in Pittsburgh hope that the neighborhood residents as a whole will benefit from the economic impact of new infrastructure, businesses, and jobs that will likely emerge alongside ALMONO Site development. However, ensuring that current, long-term residents of Greater Hazelwood are protected from rising rents, increased cost of living, and higher property taxes, constitute a pressing concern. Additionally, historical housing trends in Pittsburgh and nationwide show that this type of concentrated commercial development, combined with extremely low housing costs, attracts real-estate speculators and investors who will purchase and hold property until the land appreciates–a process which does not necessarily enrich the lives of those who are not directly party to these transactions.

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